In a world where creatures, who look like humans but feast on them to survive, known as “Ghouls” could be around any corner, student Ken Kaneki (Kubota Masataka) lives a relatively normal life until one night on a date with the girl of his dreams, his world is dramatically turned upside down when it’s revealed that she is a ghoul and begins to feast on his flesh. After an accident which leaves Rize (Yu Aoi) dead and Kaneki fighting for his life, Kaneki becomes half-ghoul and half-human after her organs are transplanted in order to save his life. It is then that Kaneki must go on a dangerous journey of discovery of this new world that he has been thrust into.
In recent years, live action adaptations of hit Japanese Anime shows or Manga have failed to hit the mark. Some key examples include the western version of Dragon Ball Z and more vividly, the admirable but wayward attempt to bring Attack on Titan to the masses. But fortunately, this version of Sui Ishida’s hit series stays faithful to the majority of its original source material whilst introducing this crazy and imaginative concept to a wider audience.
Whereas the initial scenes of Kaneki’s transformation and his emotional struggle dealing with the rapid change are obedient, the major deviation from the source is the films climax. For fans of the anime or manga, don’t expect this adaptation to end at the same point. Due to obvious limited budget and runtime issues, various subplots and characters unfortunately had to be cut from the movie to make sure that it was coherent especially for newcomers. That is not to say that this hinders the story arc in anyway.
As a film, it has clear character arcs, a solid plotline and the right amount of gore that one would expect from this horror fantasy and it’s climax consists of two hard-hitting fight sequences that are equally emotional and badass. Whereas Kaneki at this particular point in the source is still conflicted on his recent change in power, the films decides to change this in favour of him completely embracing his abilities in the fight against the CCG agents Mado and Amon so that audiences have an exciting climactic sequence to make sure they leave happy.
One of the standout characters and performers in this variation of Tokyo Ghoul is Touka Kirishima (played superbly by Fumika Shimizu). Her mannerisms are authentic to her portrayal in the source and her key scenes are some of the best in the entire film. As a side note; her Kagune (which are Ghouls special “tentacle-esque” appendage or predatory organ that protrudes from their backs) certainly got the vast majority of the CGI budget as this was easily the best realised out of all the ones that were used on screen, whereas as a lot of others looked genuinely poor.
At its heart, this live action adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul was undoubtedly satisfying for newcomers and fans alike with faithful re-imaginings of the cherished series. Plenty of gore, emotion and meaty action sequences were good as a starter but there was definitely room for more of a main course.
Tokyo Ghoul had a one night release on January 31st, however, more independent showings have been announced for the coming weeks.